As we saw last year, the NBA City Edition uniforms act as a way for Nike and all 30 teams to pay tribute to the state or region represented by the team. The City unis allow teams to get very creative and think outside-of-the-box when it comes to their alternate uniforms.
We’ve already seen a wide variety of City unis that deviate from traditional looks, and many of them have been received quite well. Others? Not so much. With this year’s crop starting to trickle out one-by-one in recent weeks, we’re going to highlight (and rank) them all here.
Here are the uniforms that have been officially unveiled, ranked from worst to best.
13. Phoenix Suns
For the second straight year, the Suns are paying tribute to their Hispanic community in Arizona with their City look. For the second straight year, they’ve churned out a very boring and disappointing effort to do so.
12. Orlando Magic
The Magic basically took last year’s City jersey and removed (or scaled back) the best part of it — the sky pattern. This just feels like a lazy, less appealing reprise.
The best part of the Hornets’ uniforms is their color scheme, so not having purple to pair with the teal here is pretty disappointing. This uniform isn’t terrible, but it’s rather boring, unspectacular and safe. I feel like the entire purpose of the City uniforms is so that teams can really go for it and get creative, so I’m not a fan of this play.
“The District of Columbia” on the front is a pretty badass alternative to the Wizards’ typical wordmark on the front of their jerseys, and the Washington Monument running up the side of the uniform is pretty neat. But I hate that they completely abandoned their red, white and blue color scheme to go with a boring black alternate. You could have had the regular color scheme work as an accent somewhere. Instead, we have a uniform that falls disappointingly short of its potential.
I’m not typically a fan of gray uniforms, and these “Rocky”-inspired ones may end up looking like a sweatsuit out on the court. Overall, the minimalistic design is pretty solid … I just wish they had gone with literally any other base color.
This is the best “Motor City” that the Pistons have had to-date, but that’s also not really saying much. The racing stripes down the middle is a pretty neat touch, but I hate that they went black and silver here. Detroit’s red, white and blue color scheme is great, so I wish they had incorporated it here … or at least thrown it back to those weird teal jerseys from the 90s.
The Bulls approached their City look with a minimalistic approach and came away with a pretty surprising winner. Chicago’s flag is awesome, so it’s very cool to see them use it as the City jersey’s inspiration for the second straight year. This rendition is infinitely better than last year’s.
The Bucks have embraced the Mecca era a few times recently, most notably with the throwback court design. I love that it served as the inspiration for this year’s City unis, and they did a pretty good job creating a bold and unique alternate that pulls from their history while also bringing a slightly modern touch.
The Nuggets’ skyline jerseys are their always their best, so it’s a shame that they don’t wear them full-time. I’m very excited to see the rainbow design come back with these City jerseys, which seem like a modern interpretation of the classic rainbows. I’m not overly crazy about the navy blue collar and no arm stripes, but overall I like these a lot.
Like most people, I was extremely excited to find out that the Wolves were going to unveil a “Purple Rain”-inspired jersey to honor late hometown hero Prince. These jerseys are very good and will likely be very popular both in Minnesota and league-wide, but it feels like they fall just short of being great and that’s frustrating.
The Thunder have the worst uniform set in the league and, frankly, it’s rather staggering that their primary look has survived for so long. That being said, this is the best jersey that the team has ever had. Not only is it gorgeous and vibrant, it’s also the first turquoise NBA uniform to pay tribute to Native American culture. That rules.
Pop culture tributes have clearly been a popular theme for the City unis this year, but the Nets have the best of the bunch. Honoring the late, great Notorious B.I.G. with the Coogi sweater pattern in the trim is such a subtle but incredible move that turns their typical, somewhat-bland primary uniforms into a work of art.
1. Miami Heat
The Heat had the biggest winner of last year’s City crop and they were smart enough not to mess with success this year. They basically took the same concept as last year and put it on a black jersey instead of a white one, and the result is yet another winner. In fact, the black version might be even better considering it makes the neon Vice colors pop more. Now the only thing left for the Heat to do is make the set their full-time primaries.